Winter ventilation question

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by Uzuri, Nov 3, 2009.

  1. Uzuri

    Uzuri Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 25, 2009
    I know there's a lot of this going around, but I think mine's pretty specific, so I'll ask anyway XD

    To set things up, here are couple shots of my chicken house, with the ventilation in view (these are clickable thumbnails; they get bigger, so don't ruin your eyes squinting [​IMG] ):

    Interior, you can see how the "ceiling" is hardware wire and open under the entire roof if you look top center. The roost is also visible here, as the board that's center left going to center center. When the hens are standing on it, their heads touch the ceiling, but when they're sleeping, there's about a 6" space between their heads and the wire.
    [​IMG]

    Roof, with blocks under it. The high side is open 3.5" in this picture; if I turn the blocks upright, I can hold it open in its "rain" and "airing" position at about 12". Low side is always open about 1/2", and the blocks can be laid down for a 1.5" opening on the high side, or kicked out altogether for a 1/2" opening all around.
    [​IMG]

    Front, high-side of the roof with the tarp down over the opening. Modification has been made since this picture was taken, and there's now a full tarp that hangs from the roof to the ground on the left side by the pop door to keep rain from blowing in. There is also about a 6" overhang of tarp on the back and right sides. Only the tarp on the front actually touches the sides of the house; the back has about a 2" gap and the sides have about 5" each, so what you kind of end up with are like the under-eave vents on a house.
    [​IMG]

    So here's the question... which combination of tarp up/tarp down/high-side opening will give me enough ventilation while still keeping warm air in with the chickens? We've had a very damp fall, so it's been difficult to keep the moisture down (though there is no visible condensation, so that's good) and Rooster has already had frostbite from a 27 degree night. I think he was an idiot and slept in the nesting box with his comb touching its (outside facing) roof, though, so I don't know for sure if that was a moisture thing or not. Might the best thing for me to do be to put a piece of board or tarp over the wire immediately over the 3' of roost they actually use to keep something of a heat ceiling while leaving the rest unblocked for air and keeping the roof as high as it goes?
     
  2. gsim

    gsim Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Dampness leads to frostbite. And it is unhealthy for chooks lungs too. Would make sure it does not sweat, ever. Some ventilation needed year-round. No drafts in wintertime. Drafts good in warm weather.
     
  3. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

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    Apr 20, 2007
    Ontario, Canada
    First, let me say that if the WEATHER is, like, 95% humidity for long periods of time, there is really not much you can do about it, and so you may find yourself wanting to use a lamp if you have large-combed breeds starting to have frostbite problems. It is all well and fine to say 'ventilation keeps the coop air dry' but even I <g> will freely admit that sometimes Mother Nature does not cooperate.

    That said, in any OTHER kind of weather, you are better off with cooler temps in the coop if that gives you a significantly drier coop too.

    Are you *sure* there is no condensation happening on the underside of the tarp. The time to look is at or just before sunrise, not after the sun is up, and not in the evening.

    If it were me, I would leave the tarp partly open on teh front (high) side of the coop, let the warm humid air *go* not try to keep it in. Well no, actually, if it were me, I would put an actual plywood roof on the coop (even if I still covered it with a tarp for 'waterproofing') and ensure sufficient eave and wall vents. But I mean, if you're not going to do that.

    Another thing that would help control coop moisture would be to install a droppings board under the roost and clean it *every morning*. I don't know how easily accessed your coop is, but if access is fairly easy then this would help a lot too although obviously is not going to change your weather patterns [​IMG]

    Really, unless there is a specific reason for having the coop built that way, it could probably be reconfigured with fairly little trouble into something that would work a lot better for you...

    Good luck, have fun,

    Pat
     
  4. Uzuri

    Uzuri Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 25, 2009
    Oops -- should have explained -- the tarp is over 1-by lumber. So there is wood there, not just a tarp! Let's see if I can find a picture that shows it...

    [​IMG]

    Not a perfect shot, but you can see that the roof is a solid roof -- that's what goes up and down and gets propped up by the blocks. I've been out every morning last week just before sunup (because I didn't have a choice; was late to work over the chickens Friday!) and have yet to find wet on the tarp flap, I have to pick it up and fold it back over the roof to get to the doors so I get a very good look at the underside. There has been frost on the outside of the tarp, but not the inside.

    I do scoop poop every chance I get (that makes it sound like I enjoy it XD ) No droppings board, but I just use the fluffed-up wood pellets like kitty litter, and strain out the droppings with a litter scoop.

    Maybe I should get myself a hygrometer and see what I'm really getting in there. I know the relative humidity in the PEOPLE house is awful this year--our windows are dripping.
     
  5. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

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    Apr 20, 2007
    Ontario, Canada
    Quote:Oh! So there is solid wood decking under the tarp? Ok, sorry to have misunderstood [​IMG]

    Maybe I should get myself a hygrometer and see what I'm really getting in there. I know the relative humidity in the PEOPLE house is awful this year--our windows are dripping.

    Might be worth it. Make sure to calibrate it first (that is, check its accuracy using the salt method, see incubator section of forum for instructions).

    If you really are getting cold and clammy weather for long stretches and getting a frostbit rooster, it is not impossible that a low-wattage lightbulb might be worthwhile. Much as I am generally against such things [​IMG] But, putting some plywood over the roost might not be a bad idea either (as you suggested), not just for warm air purposes but for blocking air movment so your roo's comb doesn't have to deal with any wind chill however mild.

    Good luck, have fun,

    Pat​
     
  6. Uzuri

    Uzuri Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 25, 2009
    My bad for not spelling that out [​IMG] It wasn't obvious in my pics.

    I think I will see if I can scare up a hygrometer; I work at a college, I'm sure someone in the science department will let me borrow one.
     

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